Dateline:December 29, 2021

The Fabulous Fifties

Comments on the 50s?

In 1959 Time Magazine published an ambitious portrayal of the passing decade.
The magazine's editors offered a memorial collage of that now mythical, and forever misunderstood, ten years:    hieroglyphs from an ancient time.    

People of the moment poured over it, identifying things they remembered, lamenting things left out, and then, probably, tossing it wherever periodicals got tossed.

Some saw its historical value, and pledged to keep it. Most of those failed, and today it barely exists. The Internet has become the archive of many historical images, but this one is only faintly registered.

See what you can identify in Time's 50s collage.

Time Magazine, in those days, was required reading in many high school government classes, so the class of 1960 may have been the main audience for the collage, and perhaps the main body of preservationists who hoped, and failed, to keep it forever.

Buz Barton's "Problems of American Democracy," class in Carlsbad, New Mexico spent at least one, maybe two periods going over the illustration, critiquing what had been included and eschewed.

In today's world, circa 2021, we find lists of important things about the fifties. It's interesting to review how the decade evolved as it passed into history, and its implications became more visible; its motivations more obscure. Let's have a look.

Expand the nearby image into a larger, interactive graphic, for clickable information about many of the caricatures.

Some illustrations remain obscure or speculative. Some are unidentified, and some may be misidentified.

Perhaps you can help out?

If you happen to have a better copy, or even an original, Gallimaufry could certainly use it.


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The baby boomers have gone from universal force to doctoral-thesis material. Read all about it.

This image was instantly recognizable in 1959 as an icon for the Baby Boom generation. They were causing old WW II barracks buildings to be pulled onto school campuses everywhere, and frightening what passed for city planners in those days, with the threat of overwhelming numbers. They've gone from cute to curmudgeon, and remained clueless the whole time.

Papa Bulldog looks on approvingly as its former empire avoids despotism.

In 1952 Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru won the first post-colonial election after heading the interim government since 1947.

The 14th Dalai Lama fleeing Tibet into exile with Khampa (men from the Eastern province of Kham) bodyguards in March, 1959.

In March, 1959, the Dalai Lama left Tibet for exile in India.

As chronicled on the nearby link, "On 17 March 1959 during a consultation with the Nechung Oracle, His Holiness was given an explicit instruction to leave the country. The Oracle's decision was confirmed when a divination performed by His Holiness produced the same answer, even though the odds against making a successful escape seemed terrifyingly high".

Edmund Hillary, Colonel John Hunt and sherpa Tensing Norgay present an account of their ascent of Mt Everest at a press conference.

In 1953, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first to ascend Mount Everest. It was one of many "firsts" for the consequential fifties. No one anticipated Everest would become the everyperson challenge it is today, with an amazing foot traffic up and down.

Mao Zedong (Dec. 26, 1893–Sept. 9, 1976), the father of modern China.

Mao Zedong was the ruler of China throughout the 1950s.

Mao made himself the leader of Chinese Communism in the early 1930s, and triumphed in the civil war after the Japanese were expelled during WW II. In the 1950s he made himself an object of disrespect among American educators, who elided his name into Mousey Tongue.

Nothing quite screams awesome like Godzilla.

Godzilla appeared for the first time in a 1954 movie of that name.

There have been 36 Godzilla movies, 32 from Japan and 4 made in America. Their quality, cinematic and narrative, has been consistent.

The franchise now supports a thriving scholastic thesis economy.

Ray Harryhausen’s special effects brought flying saucers to life in the 1956 film, “Earth vs. the Flying Saucers,” which was released at the peak of the saucer craze.

Flying Saucers entered the popular mind in 1947, but remained a cultural force throughout the 1950s.

They had their greatest effect in Hollywood, but sightings were common everywhere, and thousands believed something alien was afoot, and the government was covering it up.

A vintage JPL graphic celebrating the Explorer 1 satellite.

The space race did not begin in 1957 with the launch of Sputnik, but in 1954 when both America and the USSR announced satellite launches as part of the International Geophysical Year (IGY) activities. This region of the collage is generally identified by that term, although each illustrated object is probably a specific, as yet unidentified, event.

The IGY was a major force in scientific activity in the late 1950s, and does not seem to be separately celebrated by the collage.

The first hydrogen bomb tested by the United States vaporized the islet of Elugelab in the Marshall Islands in the North Pacific on Nov. 1, 1952.

The first Hydrogen bomb obliterated the Elugelab in the Marshall Islands in the North Pacific on Nov. 1, 1952.

Russia followed with their version in 1953. In 1956 the US proved the bomb could be deployed as a weapon by dropping one from a B-52 over Bikini Atoll, after which there was no Bikini, at all.

Captain Joseph W. Kittinger, Jr., U.S. Air Force, seated in the gondola of Project MANHIGH I, 2 June 1957.

This is probably commemorating the first Man High balloon flight. Part of the IGY, it was performed on 2 June 1957 by Captain Kittinger of the US Air Force.

He ascended from Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, and remained airborne 6 hours and 34 minutes, including 2 hours over 96,000 ft, suspended below the 280 feet long polyethylene Skyhook balloon and landed at Minnesota Creek.

He liked it up there so well, he did it several more times, except thereafter, he jumped out, setting high altitude jumping records. Oh, and he was a friend of Colonel Stapp, the high-speed-sled test rider, also at Holloman AFB.

May 28, 1959 Miss Baker and her companion Miss Able become the first US animals to complete a successful flight into space and return alive.

The honor of first primates to survive a return trip to space goes to a squirrel monkey named Miss Baker, and a rhesus macaque named Able.

The pair were launched in 1959 on a Jupiter rocket, an intermediate-range ballistic missile designed to carry nuclear warheads, not monkeys. Sadly, Able died just days after returning to Earth due to complications from a medical procedure.

Laika, before the launch that made her the first living creature in orbit. (NASM)

Laika (Russian: Лайка; c. 1954 – 3 November 1957) was a Soviet space dog who became one of the first animals in space, and the first animal to orbit the Earth.

Smithsonian Institution scientists Dr. Josef A. Hynek, Fred L. Whipple and Don Lautman plotted the orbit of Sputnik I. Dmitri Kessel The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Sputnik 1 was launched 4 October, 1957, and Sputnik 2 went up on 3 November, 1957, carrying Laika, the Soviet dog.

The event startled the popular mind, shocking the casual observer, i.e., everyone except those directly involved in American aviation. The event stimulated a belief America was falling behind in producing space expertise, and an emphasis was placed on what is now called STEM education, with a rush on college science and engineering programs.

There was quite a lot of hand wringing at the time, which modern story tellers imagine as sprawling hysteria.

One modern day sage tells us, solemnly, that president Eisenhower called the moment a crisis. That is about the exact opposite of what Ike said, although his political opponents tossed the "C" word with the luncheon salad.

JFK traded his phrase "Missile Gap" for the presidency, and announced NASA's already suggested goal of going to the moon. He got sidetracked in Cuba, but his successors carried the mail for him. It was an exciting time.

An exploded view of the first successful U.S. satellite launched in 1958, Explorer I.

This is probably Explorer 1, first American Satellite, launched January 31, 1958.

There was a sense of relief that America had finally gotten something into space, but also a little embarrassment at how pitiful it seemed. That was probably the general oh-my-God-we're-all-going-to-die trope of popular media, but the wail of defeat amplified through the next several years, with people wondering why we even kept trying. Ours almost always blew up.

Avrocar’s development coincided with both the Cold War and America’s UFO craze post World War II.

UFOs were a major concern during the 1950s, spawning books and government studies.

There was always a suspicion people were seeing military test vehicles, but who knows?

Time Magazine's coverage of the summit.

The four-power Geneva summit in 1955 was preceeded by events the journalists called pre-summit meetings. The foreign policy staff of each participant met to iron out the details of what was to be agreed by the heads of state.

Time Magazine's coverage of the summit.

The Geneva Summit of 1955 was a Cold War-era meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. Held on July 18, 1955, it was a meeting of "The Big Four": President Dwight D. Eisenhower of the United States, Prime Minister Anthony Eden of Britain, Premier Nikolai A. Bulganin of the Soviet Union, and Prime Minister Edgar Faure of France.

Rocco Francis Marchegiano (September 1, 1923 – August 31, 1969; Italian pronunciation: [markeˈdʒaːno]), better known as Rocky Marciano (/mɑːrsiˈɑːnoʊ/, Italian: [marˈtʃaːno]), was an American professional boxer who competed from 1947 to 1955, and held the world heavyweight title from 1952 to 1956. He is the only heavyweight champion to have finished his career undefeated. He retired from boxxing April 27, 1956.

This might be the wedding of Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini, note Bergman's Swiss flag to the left, on March 24, 1950. Or, perhaps it's her wedding to Lars Schmidt on December 21, 1958.

Popular Electronics May 1955

Uranium prospecting was a popular amatuer sport though much of the 1950s. Geiger Counters became consumer items.

Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier join hands as the Bishop of Monaco, Mgr. Gilles Barthe, administers the nuptial benediction at Saint Nicholas Cathedral, April 1956.

This is most likely the wedding of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco, April 19, 1956.

They called it the wedding of the century. Who could have doubted it?

What we know about the Nautilus (SSN-571).

This likely refers to Cmdr. William R. Anderson and the crew of the USS Nautilus when they crossed the North Pole decades ago, on August 3, 1958.

Following their wedding ceremony, then Japanese Crown Prince Akihito and his bride, the former Michiko Shoda, pose together before beginning a triumphant drive through the streets of Tokyo, April 10, 1959.

Probably the marriage of Michiko Shoda and Japanese Crown Prince Akihito on April 10, 1959.

U.S. President Harry S Truman and Soong Mei-ling, the wife of Republic of China President Chiang Kai-Shek, were two of the most important figures in setting U.S. policy toward China after World War Two.

This is probably Chiang Kai-shek and Madame Chiang holding forth on Taiwan, as they did for the decade of the 1950s, and until 1975.

The stage was set by America's 1949 decision to recognize the China of Chaing Kai-Shek and not that of Mao Zedong.

The 1950s were partly shaped by that foreign policy, with Chiang and Madame Chiang becoming American icons.

President Truman pins the Distinguished Service Medal on the shirt of Gen. Douglas MacArthur in this Oct. 14, 1950, file photo.

President Truman firing General Douglas MacArthur on April 10, 1951.

A column of troops and armor of the 1st Marine Division move through communist Chinese lines during their successful breakout from the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. The Marines were besieged when the Chinese entered the Korean War November 27, 1950, by sending 200,000 shock troops against Allied forces..

Ranging (and raging) behind Truman and MacArthur is the Korean war, all the way to China. The war was not forgotten by the end of the decade, but it didn't figure prominently in the culture.

By the early 1960s it was plain to any observer, the Korean War, and its lessons, were long forgotten, as we headed into Vietnam.

By the end of the 1960s, the horrors of Korea had receded behind the conceits of modern life.

John Foster Dulles was Dwight D. Eisenhower’s secretary of state from 1953 to 1959. In the tense, early years of Cold War politics, Dulles pursued a foreign policy designed to isolate the Soviet Union and undermine the spread of Communism.

This is John Foster Dulles, Eisenhower's Secretary of State, globe-trotting diplomat tending to the world's business.

The two of them, Dulles and Ike, steered the world away from nuclear annihilation. It all seems so prosaic and predictable now, and in fact it seemed that way then, but the decisions they made during the fifties, mapped a course to the early nineties, and a respite from Mutual Assured Destruction.

Many found it boring, and that's what good leadership looks like to the highly distracted.

At the height of the Cold War in 1958, Van Cliburn—a 23-year-old Texan—won the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow

Van Cliburn was an American (Texas) pianist whose first-place award at the 1958 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow made him an overnight sensation and propelled him to a phenomenally successful and lucrative career.

The imprint in the public mind is hard to imagine anymore, but there was a time, shortly after Sputnik, when Americans were hungry for a victory over their cold war rival, and possible undertaker, Khrushchev had promised to bury us, and that was the moment a youngster from Shreveport, via Fort Worth, kicked the trail dust off his boots and wowed the masses with his piano skills. And, he did it in Moscow. Hard to imagine.

European Memories of the Gulag

Enemies of the people headed for what came to be called the Gulag, Siberia. No individuals have yet been identified.

At Dien Bien Phu in '54, Jim Rubin got an early taste of war in Vietnam.

American popular culture thinks of Vietnam as a 1960s topic, but Ho Chi Minh, the figure portrayed here, played a long game.

The specific event portrayed in the Time collage is probably the battle of Dien Bien Phu, which ended on May 7, 1954, with Ho Victorious, the French vanquished, and Vietnam split between north and south. This is the genesis moment of the 1960s war turmoil, although a good many shoes had yet to be dropped.

Ben Hogan produced rounds of 67-72-73-71 to win the 1953 U.S. Open Championship at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club by six strokes. It was his fourth and final national championship. (USGA Archives)

At first we thought this was an image of golfer, Ben Hogan. But why is Ben dancing around near a French flag? And isn't that a beret on his head? We now think it's a generic image of the French Foreign Legion, the cap is a beret, and it is part of the Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam illustration. Oh well, Ben was a big deal in the 1950s, too.

In the 1950s when someone said "golf," the first person to mind was Ben Hogan. He should be in the Time Magazine collage, because he won the triple crown in 1953, four years after a near-fatal car wreck.

The Russian bear became a symbol of Russia through a strange set of circumstances.

The Russian Bear represents the Soviet Union, the bugbear of the 1950s.

Khrushchev got credit for keeping him on a short leash, although that didn't make him less fearsome.

Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev (left center) engage in a discussion in front of a kitchen display at the U.S. exhibit at Moscow's Sokolniki Park on July 24, 1959. | AP Photo

Richard Nixon made a trip to Russia in 1959, and engaged Khrushchev in what became known as "The Kitchen Debate." See an excerpt at the nearby link.

More than you want to know about Khrushchev.

Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev[a] (15 April [O.S. 3 April] 1894 – 11 September 1971) served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964 and as chairman of the country's Council of Ministers from 1958 to 1964. During his rule, Khrushchev stunned the communist world with his denunciation of Stalin's crimes, and embarked on a policy of de-Stalinization with his key ally Anastas Mikoyan.

More than you want to know about Molotov.

Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov[a] (/ˈmɒlətɒf, ˈmoʊ-/;[1] né Skryabin;[b] (OS 25 February) 9 March 1890 – 8 November 1986) was a Russian politician and diplomat, an Old Bolshevik, and a leading figure in the Soviet government from the 1920s onward.

When Stalin died, Molotov retained his loyalty to old dictator, and opposed Khrushchev's de-Stalinization. The Jack-in-the-Box caricature probably refers to Molotov's political battles, which to western eyes appeared to flare up, embarrassing Khrushchev at odd moments.

The Death of Stalin has been turned into a comedy. The humor passed unnoticed at the time.

These heads represent the Soviet leaders who were deposed, or died, during the 1950s.

They are, left to right, Joseph Stalin, Lavrenti Beria, Vyacheslav Molotov, Georgy Malenkov.

The nearby link gives us Smithsonian's take on a recent comedic look at the episode.

Sports Illustrated, the magazine, was first published in August, 1954.

The first issue of Sports Illustrated, showing Milwaukee Braves star Eddie Mathews at bat and New York Giants catcher Wes Westrum in Milwaukee County Stadium

Boris Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Literature prize on 23 October, 1958, but forced to decline it by the Soviet Union government. Award of the prize had been rumored since the end of World War II, but the publication, and instant success in the west, of his novel, "Doctor Zhivago" provided the impetus in 1958. Publication in the Soviet Union had been denied and the book was clandestinely removed to Italy for publication in the west. The CIA smuggled it back into the Soviet Union, and the embarrassed politburo refused to let Pasternak accept the prize.

Sadly, due to disapproval from the Soviet Union, where Pasternak and his family lived, Pasternak was forced to turn down the Nobel Prize.

Here's what John Simpkin makes of Nasser and the Suez Criis.

On 26 July 1956, Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal Company, which prior to that was owned primarily by British and French shareholders.

On 29 October, Israel invaded the Egyptian Sinai. Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to cease fire, which was ignored.

On 5 November, Britain and France landed paratroopers along the Suez Canal. Before the Egyptian forces were defeated, they had blocked the canal to all shipping by sinking 40 ships in the canal.

Native Dancer wins the Grand Union Hotel Stakes, one of his four Saratoga stakes wins in 1952. (Bert Morgan/BloodHorse)

Native Dancer (March 27, 1950 – November 16, 1967), nicknamed the Gray Ghost, was one of the most celebrated and accomplished Thoroughbred racehorses in American history and was the first horse made famous through the medium of television. He was a champion in each of his three years of racing, and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1963. In the Blood-Horse magazine List of the Top 100 Racehorses of the 20th Century, he was ranked seventh.

In the Associated Press rankings of the greatest racehorses of the 20th century, he was ranked #3, tied with Citation, behind only Man o' War and Secretariat.

The illustration's grass skirt references another pop-culture artifact of the 1950s, hula dancing.

Teddy Kollek with Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, on the Kinneret (photo credit: NAFTALI OPPENHEIM/ BEIT YIGAL ALLON ARCHIVES, GINOSSAR)

David Ben-Gurion, born David Grün; 16 October 1886 – 1 December 1973) was the primary national founder of the State of Israel and the first Prime Minister of Israel. Adopting the name of Ben-Gurion in 1909, he rose to become the preeminent leader of the Jewish community in British-ruled Mandatory Palestine from 1935 until the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, which he led until 1963 with a short break in 1954–55.

Man of the Year in 1954, he is still inspiring PhD theses.

This portrayal of Konrad Adenauer, children, the German flag and a stewpot of fish, is not fully deciphered. The children and fishpot may refer to Adenauer's effots to improve German nutriiton, and particularly to his school nutrition program. It may refer to the food aid provided from the US, through West Germany, to East Germans, during the 1953 East German uprising, as well as German unification (the flag), but might refer to the Berlin Crisis of 1958.

Adenauer was Time Magazine's "Man of the Year" in 1954, and he was heavily in the news in the late 50s as a second Berlin crisis loomed, and he won another election.

Portrayed here are Luis Miguel Dominguín, Ernest Hemingway, and Antonio Ordóñez recalling the last mano a mano bullfight, held in 1959 Spain between Dominguin and Ordóñez, and covered for Life Magazine by Hemingway.

Spanish matador Antonio Ordonez (R) chatting w. his friend, author Ernest Hemingway, in arena before bullfight. (Photo by Loomis Dean/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images).

An aerial photograph of The Atomium 1958, Brussels.

The first major international Expo after WW II was held in 1958 Brussels, as Expo 58. The central structure was the Atomium, an enlarged (greatly) model of an iron crystal. It was intended to become the atomic age equivalent of the Eiffel Tower, from the 1889 World's Fair. It was controversial from the start, called various unflattering names, and predicted to lack the staying power of its inspiration. In fact, it is still standing, and was rennovated at the turn of the millenium.

An exhibition entitled 'The humility and courage that changed history" is dedicated to late Popes John XXIII and John Paul II at the Vatican.

This is probably Pope John XXIII, selected in 1958 to replace the deceased Pope Pius XII, and known by many today as "The Good Pope."

Pope John XXIII's relatively short time in office is remembered chiefly for convening the Second Vatican Council, which transformed the Roman Catholic Church.

The man who many expected to be a caretaker pontiff became a hero for progressive Catholics.

John XXII is also remembered for introducing the vernacular to replace Latin in church masses and for creating warmer ties between the Catholic Church and the Jewish faith.

“The facts may prove me wrong,” Charles de Gaulle one day declared to his Finance Minister, Antoine Pinay, “but history will prove me right.”

Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle (/də ˈɡoʊl, -ˈɡɔːl/; French pronunciation: [ʃaʁl də ɡol] (About this soundlisten);[1] 22 November 1890 – 9 November 1970) was a French army officer and statesman who led Free France against Nazi Germany in World War II and chaired the Provisional Government of the French Republic from 1944 to 1946 in order to reestablish democracy in France. In 1958, he came out of retirement when appointed President of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister) by President René Coty. He rewrote the Constitution of France and founded the Fifth Republic after approval by referendum. He was elected President of France later that year, a position to which he was reelected in 1965 and held until his resignation in 1969.

In 1958, a revolt by French colonists in Algeria led to a severe political crisis in France, and de Gaulle agreed to head a new emergency government. Considered the only leader of sufficient strength and stature to deal with the perilous situation, he was made the virtual dictator of France, with power to rule by decree for six months. A new constitution of his design was approved in a national referendum in September, and on December 21 he was elected president of the Fifth Republic.

Holding de Gaulle's hand is Marrianne, symbol of the French Republic.

The significance of the men looking up at de Gaulle and apparently falling backward, as on the right, and drinking, as on the left and one of those on the right, remains elusive.

Kwame Nkrumah inspired Africa's independence movement but became a dictator and was overthrown

This image seems to be commemorating the independce of Ghana from British colonial rule in 1957. The figure may be generic, or perhaps the first Ghana president and prime minister, Kwame Nkrumah.

The significance of the image to the right of what seems to be a tug of war between British soldiers and African natives has not been fully explored.

In June 1945, there were approximately 8,235 students enrolled in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) at 42 schools. By December 1959, that number would climb to 54,100 students at 84 schools.

School enrollments grew throughout the 1950s, as the baby boomers moved through the system. Classrooms were crowded, adults returned to school, and the system struggled to keep curricula up to date.

According to one sociologist, our spending habits are a product of the people we put on pedestals. Lambert/Getty Images

The 1950s were early on predicted to be a time of frugality, privation, maybe economic depression. The popular wisdom through the end of the 1940s recommended preparing for another tough time as the war time spending stopped, and returning vets flooded the job market.

When the opposite happened, a new bogeyman was invented: consumerism. It was widely reported that Americans were buying a whole lot of stuff they didn't really need, and that was a problem of some kind, moral, economic, intellectual, or cultural.

Nobody paid much attention, other than college sophomores and those H. L. Mencken has once opined were worried that, "Someone, somewhere, is enjoying themselves."

This section of the collage is a nod to both camps. There was certainly a lot of buying things in the 1950s, on a scale that reflected the stored up demand of the previous two decades: depression and war.

Supermarkets were wonders of American productivity. Nothing like them had ever been seen before. They remain wonders to many newcomers to the American dream. There was so much stuff to buy, you had to haul it out in carts.

The American cookout was a strange phenomenon, a mixture of dad asserting himself as of old in preparing food, a feel of roughing it, and status symbol.

Housing exploded, with everyone clambering to own their bit of land and a dwelling. The location and number of bedrooms/bathrooms of everyone's home told a story about them, and everyone wanted to be part of agood story.

It's hard to see why anyone would criticise a society for producing so much material benefit, but people worked hard to do it, often successfully. Still, the critics played a role in promoting humility, and, as Mrs. Roosevelt said of her husband's successor, there was a lot to be humble about.

Senator Joseph McCarthy

McCarthyism, the phrase, not the practice, was invented in the 1950s to describe the methods used by Senator Joseph McCarthy in exposing agents of the Soviet Union operating in the American government. He believed there were lots of them, his political opponents thought there were fewer, and other horrified bystanders thought his investigations trampled the rights of the accused. His name has entered the language as a noun, and sometime verb, to denote the use of falsehood and innuendo to discredit, or smear, chosen political targets.

Since McCarthy was looking for communists, reds, his tactics were and are called the "red smear."

The serpent's tongue might strike some as over the top, but probably not anyone who was a target of McCarthy's efforts.

The execution and eye-catching location of this graphic correctly depict the popular wisdom, then and now, about the McCarthy era, and, for some, is a succinct summation of the entire decade of the fifties.

Vinyl Record Sizes and Speeds

From the 1890s to 1948, the length of popular songs was largely restrained by the size and speed of vinyl records. They spun at 78 revolutions per minute, because that was the sweet spot for the electric motors of the day, were about ten inches in diameter, and would hold only about three minutes of music. After World War II, that changed. In 1948 Columbia Records marketed the long-playing (LP) record, with a turntable spinning at the LP speed of 33 1/3 RPM, and allowed musicians to extend their recording time. Consumers were delighted to put a stack of records on their automatic changer, and have uninterrupted music for hours. The next year RCA, which had already failed to get their own 33 1/3 product to catch on in the 1930s, hit the market with a seven inch record spinning at 45 RPM.

As the 1950s openned, all three formats and speeds were competing in the market place. Gradually the older 78s were replaced by the 45s, because the higher playback speed sounded better, and the smaller records used less material and were easier to store. By the middle of the decade, singles were released on 45s, and albums came out on LPs. Turntables usually played all three speeds. Music had become a personal collectible among the adults and children of the post-war period.

Murrow at war.

Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965) is best known as a CBS broadcaster and producer during the formative years of U.S. radio and television news programs from the 1930s to the 1950s, when radio still dominated the airwaves although television was beginning to make its indelible mark, particularly in the US. Over the decades, numerous publications have portrayed Murrow as one of the architects of U.S. broadcast news, but in the political climate of recent years, he is increasingly viewed as a defender of rights against McCarthy-type witch hunts.


Television as baby sitter entered the public sphere in the 50s. Howdy Doody, Captain Kangaroo, and the Mickey Mouse Club might have been the most popular, but by the end of the 50s, when this collage was drawn, there were many images to choose from. Here we see a favorite 50s icon that is still recognizable, the coon skin cap craze fostered by Fess Parker's depiction of Tennessee Congressman, and Alamo casualty, Davey Crocket ("Always be sure you are right, then go ahead.").

The TV show itself is the iconic puppet show Kukla Fran and Ollie.

Charles Van Doren, the 1950s quiz show contestant who famously cheated by using answers he received in advance, has died at age 93.

In the transition of the entertainment taste from radio to TV, which occurred in the early 1950s, many shows moved from speakers to screen, and several genres. Daytime soap operas became even more popular, even though their video versions demanded more attention. The serialized cliff hangers were widely watched, mocked, criticized and held up as examples of the intellectual decay of public life.

At night, during what came to be called prime time, two other genres from the old radio days proved popular, westerns, and quiz shows. The quiz show graphic refers to a specific show, and specific contestant.

Charles Van Doren became the public face of dishonest quiz shows, in the late 1950s, and left his job in television as well as his professorship at Columbia University. The little bird is whispering answers into his ear.

Pablo Casals

The cellist is Pablo Casals, famed virtuoso and conductor who became even more famous for his opposition to Franco, the Spanish dictator. He left Spain fearing for his life, and lived in exile for years. After World War II he announced that he would no longer perform in any country that recognized Franco's government (most of them).

He made one exception to his boycott, agreeing to play at the inauguration of John F. Kennedy in 1961, but the 1950s were over by then.

King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid of Denmark (right) hosted Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard of The Netherlands on their State Visit to Denmark on March 14, 1953

This image appears to depict the Queen of Denmark, known as Ingrid of Sweeden, inside the white picket fence, with Queen Juliana of the Netherlands to her left (red, white, and, blue flag), and someone from Italy (green, white, and red flag) in front of her.

Queen Juliana visited Denmark in the 1950s, but Italy was a republic by that time. The first lady of Italy until 1955 was Ida Pellegrini, who looked a little like the illustration, or Carla Bissatini for the rest of the decade.

The significance of this illustration is not yet determined.

King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid of Denmark (right) hosted Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard of The Netherlands on their State Visit to Denmark on March 14, 1953

This was the popular image of juvenile delinquency in the 1950s. It was a big problem in the cities. Smaller towns heard about it and worried. Youngsters heard about it and wondered, acted out, played bad, listened to awful music and did their best to frighten their parents.

How bad was it? By todays standards, it was overall pretty tame, but that still leaves a lot of room at the edges for murder and mayhem.

Advertiser David Ogilvy with two of his creations: the Man in the Hathaway Shirt and Commander Whitehead, spokesperson for Schweppes, about 1960

The image depicts advertiser David Ogilvy and two of his utterly recognizable (in the late 50s) advertising creations, the Hathaway man and a spokesperson for Schweppes.

Dr. Albert Schweitzer, a renowned medical missionary with a complicated history

Most people will get this man's first name right. Some will mistake him for the other Albert, which was common during his lifetime. There are stories of him being approached to autograph a picture of Einstein, and of him signing, "Albert Einstein, by his friend Albert Schweitzer." In fact they were friends.

After Schweitzer won the Nobel Peace Prize, Einstein said of him: "Due to my opinion he is the only person in the western world - comparable with Gandhi - who has had a supranational moral effect on this generation. As it is with Gandhi, the force of this effect stems mostly from the example which he has given through his practical life’s work."

He belongs in the 1950s collage because he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952, but the thing that probably put him in the artist's, and editors', sights was his international plea in 1957 for nuclear disarmament.

It's become fashionable to twist the public worry beads over Schweitzer because of his private comments about the society of indigenous people to whom he spent his life ministering. So far, no criticism from anyone who made greater personal sacrifices, or accomplished more, for those same people.

Her Majesty The Queen

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was crowned Elizabeth II, Queen of England, June 2, 1953, although she'd been queen since the death of her father, George VI on February 6, 1952.

The coronation for Americans gets mixed in with the Inauguration of Dwight Eisenhower as the president following Harry Truman, which occurred earlier in 1953. It was just part of the "I Like Ike" celebration.

Above the queen the stork delivers two babies, apparently Prince Charles, and Princess Anne, although only Anne was a 50s baby, Charles having arrived in 1948. Andrew and Edward arrived in the 60s.

25-year-old medical student Roger Bannister runs 3:59.4 on the Iffley Road Track in Oxford, England

All children run, and in the early 1950s they had an elusive, never attained standard to fantasize about, the 4-minute mile. No one had ever done it, and it was as omnipresent in the zeitgeist as the sound barrier, and Mount Everest. Then, in 1954, came word that Roger Bannister had broken the 4-minute-mile barrier. What a moment.

Roger Bannister joined Sir Edmund Hillary in the popular imagination as a conquerer of impossible goals. He inspired.

Then a strange thing happened. Everyone, so it seemed, began besting the unattainable 4-minute goal. Once it fell, like climbing Everest, the never-before-accomplished became the everyday. At least it seemed that way. Still, Bannister was the first, the trail blazer, like Hillary, and humanity came rushing after.

Life Magazine: Winston Churchill here obeyed his own injunction to amateur painters: ‘Audacity is the only ticket.’

Winston Churchill was an international hero in the 1950s, widely regarded as the man of the century. He returned as British Prime Minister in 1951, his health deteriorated, and he retired in 1955. The collage respresents the American view of his old age.

Anthony Armstrong-Jones and Princess Margaret

Americans took a soap-opera interest in Queen Elizabeth's sister Margaret during the 1950s. For several years the plot involved Peter Townsend, and then Anthony Armstrong Jones. She was engaged to Jones at the end of the decade, and he is probably the one depicted here.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Billy Graham

The international influence of Billy Graham in the 1950s, or even his domestic influence seems foreign to twenty-first century sensibilities, and hard even to credit, let alone understand.

He was an authentic personality, sincere, and uncompromising in his evangelical spirit. He associated with known sinners, and gained the approbrium of the self-proclaimed righteous. He was on a mission from God.

The Times graphic correctly portrays him as Satan's nemesis, and as international in his popularity. His trip to Britain inspired, we are told, the Queen as well as her subjects.

He was as much a part of the 1950s as the hula hoop, and much more inspiring.

Khrushchev meets Shirley MacLaine, Courtesy: Bettmann / Corbis

In 1959 Premier Nikita Khrushchev of the Soviet Union toured America at the invitation of President Eisenhower. American's excelled at making him welcome, and the old Communist war horse was impressed, greatly. The graphic in the collage refers mainly to his visit with Iowa farmer Roswell Garst, but he went everywhere, and was, reportedly, amazed at the vitality of 1950s Americans.

Garst farmed corn, what else, in Iowa, and convinced, so we are told, the Eisenhower administration to help feed, the Russians, whose successive five-year plans to gain food sufficiency kept taking longer than expected. Garst had previously toured Russia and sold them so seed corn. "Peace through corn," was his motto.

He also visited Disneyland, as indicated by the castle, lower right.

Diefenbaker and the Queen

Apparently depicted here is Canada's Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker, joining the Queen on her 1959 commonwealth tour. We must speculate it appears in the graphic because Time Magazine was covering the Queen's tour.

T. S. Eliot visits Texas

This illustration is an ongoing mystery. Pending resolution, we offer a speculative possibility.

T. S. Eliot bears some resemblance to the gentleman under the palm tree (although a barefoot Eliot in a T-shirt strains speculation). The most famous line in his most famous poem is, "I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each," and he was in the news during the 1950s. He was on the cover of Time Magazine in 1950, and he made a trip to America, his homeland, in 1958.

Perhaps someone will correctly identify this image for us.

Butler Grade School, Butler, Bates County, Missouri

The statue of Liberty was in the air during the 1950s. It's prominence as an icon during WW II carried into the decade in popular discourse. Time Magazine made frequent use of its image.

In 1950 a Kansas City businessman, Jack Whitaker, enlisted the Boy Scouts of America in distributing miniature copies of the statue to towns across America. Some 200 were distributed and installed between 1950 and 1952. Many remain.

When a couple of American businessmen in 1958 began selling hoops, long a childhood toy, but just then in a trough of popularity, they combined them with the hula dancing fad, calling them hula hoops. America, and the world turned the product into a fad, and liberty, everywhere, was twirling a hoop, or trying to, around its waist.

Frank Lloyd Wright at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum during construction, New York, ca. 1957

In the 1950s the term "architect" was synonymous with Frank Lloyd Wright. There was a common notion, especially among the young, he was the only one.

In 1959, fresh in the artist's mind, the iconic American architect produced the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, called the Guggenheim. It was an instantly recognized image in Time's 1950s collage.

An Asian flu vaccine being rushed by helicopter to parts of the U.S. hit by the epidemic, 1957.

The 1950s were, at the big-picture level, a decade of prosperity. The economy overall grew by 37% during the 1950s. At the end of the decade, the median American family had 30% more purchasing power than at the beginning. Inflation was minimal. Unemployment remained low, about 4.5%.

Availability of credit was one factor in the prosperity, and credit cards grew in use, although they were still a decade away from becoming universal.

There were two major recessions during the decade, one after the Korean War, from 1953-1954, and one during the Asian Flu epidemic of 1957-1958, but they ended with a resumption of the underlying expansion.

Handbill from the 1957 production of "My Fair Lady."

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) made everyone's list of famous people who died in that decade. Arturo Toscanini was another. But Shaw kept making headlines as his plays trouped across the theater stages, and his movies flashed from the silver screen. Every community theater in the country aspired to a Shaw production.

"My Fair Lady" set records for a musical on Broadway, and we see it suggested in the graphic by Shaw holding the hands of his two main characters. His play was called "Pigmalion" and he didn’t want it converted to a musical, but when he died in 1950, he lost his vote.

Shaw was popular among people who'd never read a word he wrote, because of his movies and plays. Archibald Henderson called him the man of the century, which he used as the title of his Shaw biography in 1957.

Leonard Bernstein was one of the first American-born conductors to receive worldwide fame.

This figure, in three poses, probably represents Leonard Bernstein, American composer, conductor, and TV personality. His name doubled as synonyms for composer and conductor, and any child pretending to command a symphony modeled Bernstein. At the time of the Time Magazine collage, he was particularly well known because of the popularity of "West Side Story."

The biggest 1950s fashion style moments that defined the decade

Marilyn Monroe was the icon of Hollywood in the 1950s, and Cinemascope was the technology. Together they represented, in the popular mind, all the glitz and wonder of fantasy writ humongous. People streamed into theaters, despite the popularity of TV, to see them or a decent substitute.

What was it like in 1959, when the U.S. territories of Alaska and Hawaii were admitted into the U.S.?

In 1959 two new states were admitted to the United States, making a new 49 star flag a collectors' item. It was flown for less than 6 months, and is hard to find these days. There was drama in the air, and backstage, but to most Americans it was a long-anticipated event, of little impact on most people's lives. Still, everyone seemed to think it was celebratory.

President Harry Truman hugs his daughter, Margaret.

President Truman's only daughter, Margaret, aspired to a singing career in the late 1940s, and gave a few well publicized, mildly reviewed, performances in 1949.

The Times collage image derives mostly from an event in 1950 when Margaret gave three concerts at Washington DC's Constitution Hall. A reviewer named Paul Hume reported that she, "cannot sing very well," and Mr. Truman dashed off a letter to the tone-deaf scribbler declaring it best if they never meet, else, "You’ll need a new nose, and plenty of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!"

Another reason for the image is President Truman's penchant for entertaining guests at his Missouri retirement home in the 1950s with piano renditions of Missouri Waltz and other fare. His guests included former adversaries, such as Richard Nixon, not a Truman supporter, and the wayward reviewer from his daughter's short-lived singing career. Paul Hume emerged from the Truman home with nose intact, eyes clear, and not in need of a truss.

The Court Jester that appears to be sitting on the piano stool with President Truman, may refer to George Allen, a favorite at court during both the Truman and Eisenhower years, or perhaps it refers to Truman's 1954 award of a lifetime membership in the Royal Order of Jesters, Kansas City Court Number 54, a Masonic group. Or, maybe the jester is actually clinging to the national capital, an unexplained, but perhaps appropriate association.

President Eisenhower puts on golf gloves as he leaves Officers Open Mess, August 25, 1955, with Maj. Gen. Martin E. Griffin.

Dwight Eisenhower suffered a bad case of indigestion on a trip to Colorado, which turned out to be his first heart attack. Treatment for the malady was primitive in 1955, by today's standards, and a good bit of misleading information got into the papers before what had actually happened was finally acknowledged. Still, Ike was the first, and maybe the last, president to "eventually" come clean on his health, mostly.

The country followed his recovery, and heart problems became the de rigueur malady for aspiring hypochondriacs, and lesser attention seekers. Many a country club swizel stick wielder would disclose, "I've been walking around with a sicker heart than Ike for years." Everyone became heart conscious, and treatments began improving.

Ike suffered more health setbacks. Unlike the later surgeries of LBJ, Ike didn't show off his gall bladder scars to reporters. He suffered a mild stroke in 1957, a result of his heart problems, and had his gall bladder removed before he left office. Each setback endeared him even more to his adoring public, which extended well beyond American shores.

He had six more heart attacks after leaving office, and died of congestive heart failure in 1969.

Ike comes in for a lot of revisionist history, a consequence of high office, and his health is part of the evolving recollections. Lot's of people fault his medical caregivers for not having the wisdom of modern practice to consult, and his staff are accused of malpractice for their attempts to control political damage from his problems. That's all part of the games, both political and academic.

A candid moment from the N’ Bull coffee shop in 1959.

Beatniks started showing up in the early 1950s, and entered mainstream thought toward the end of the decade. They had two national headquarters, New York, and San Francisco, but there were beatnik aspirations all across the country, in every high school and college. They were more prominent in adolescent life than indicated by the collage, and they had leadership not suggested by the image.

Joe DiMaggio was a cultural icon.

The NY Yankees were the most dominant team in Major League baseball during the 50s, and perhaps that is the point of this image. More likely it represents a particular player, and it looks most like Joe Dimaggio, who was in the news for most of the decade.

Dimaggio was still playing during the 1950 and 1951 seasons, and he was briefly married to film star, Marylin Monroe in 1954. His induction into the hall of fame came in his first year of eligibility in 1955. By the end of the decade he was rumored to be still in love with Marylin, by then married to playwright Arthur Miller.

He was in the public's sympathetic eye as an American image of grace and skill.

By the late fifties Rock and Roll had moved beyond it's southern and urban blues roots becoming the dominant musical style.

Time Magazine puts the advent of Rock and Roll near the center of its collage. The image is probably intended to be generic, but if any one artist is suggested, it would be Elvis Preseley, the pop-culture icon of the era.

During the polio epidemic in the U.S., some hospitals had large, room-like iron lungs where multiple children lived.

Polio was mystery, destiny, and terror to youngsters and their parents in the early 1950s. In the popular mind it was the stealth disease, often fatal, and often debilitating.

Everyone growing up in that era had friends who'd had polio, and many lost friends from the disease. No one knew what caused it. No one knew where it might strike. Folklore suggested avoiding big crowds, but no one knew whether it was the crowds themselves, or dust stirred by them, or perhaps something else. It was even suspected by some to be a Communist plot.

Everyone talked about a cure. No one had a cure. Money was needed, and the March of Dimes was almost a religious, and certainly a patriotic undertaking.

The wonder and relief felt by everyone, especially young people, at the announcement of a vaccine was palpable. People remember the exact time and place they first heard of the Salk Vaccine. It was a miracle, and life changed in that instant. For them, there is BS and AS, before and after Salk.

At the time, in the early 50s, the common images associated with polio were leg braces and iron lungs. After the vaccine was widely distributed those images dropped away. The Time Magazine collage was drawn, of course, in 1959, and we don't see those once terrifying images. That's just as well. By then, polio was a success story, almost to tiny to get on the page.

This is the work of the ducati998 blog.

This image conveys into the future two elements of 1950s culture. First is the exuberant trading in the stock market, the ticker tape machine with gumball-like multitudes inside, where bull-market enthusiasm ran wild for most of the decade. Once the drain of the Korean War ceased, the American economy sailed upward and took the market with it. There was a blip with sputnik, but otherwise, everyone was a market genius all of the time, as they always are in bull markets.

Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder, collaborators in MAD and Playboy, as drawn by Elder. Courtesy the estate of Will Elder.

The other 50s icon is the "What me worry" sign, a likeness of Alfred E. Neuman, recalling the debut, and best days, of Mad Magazine, an entirely new thing in American publishing.

Many youngsters, maybe most, took one look at Mad Magazine and saw a two-tined fork for instant deployment into the soft meat. It was outragesously clever and funny, obvious even to a twelve year old, and it was not going to be well liked by those who ran things. It was too edgy (a term not yet in vogue) and disparaging of the sacred in all its forms. They even made fun of Walt Disney! What, me worry?

Time Magazine seems to have hit on something that finally made its way back into popular culture recently. Market psychology and Mad Magazine seemed well aligned. Mad Men.

Dwight Eisenhower and Arnold Palmer smile before a round of golf at the Gettysburg Country Club in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in 1960.

Everyone in America knew several things about Ike. He'd commanded the Allied forces to victory in WW II. He was the president of the United States. He played golf. If you were a politial opponent, you likely snickered as you mentioned these things, otherwise you were reverential.

Ike also played bridge, and aficianados of the game maintain it was his real passion. He was reputed to be good at it. That wasn't much talked about and most people didn't know it.

The jester figure caddying for him is speculative, but perhaps it was comedian George Allen, a friend of Ike's

Each robber’s face was completely concealed behind a Halloween-type mask.

Brinks is an obvious target for thieves. That's where the money is, as Willie Sutton is reputed to have observed, except he was talking about banks. Brinks is like a bank, a mobile bank, rolling around with large amounts of cash.

Brinks has been robbed a lot. But if you say, "Brinks Robbery," you're likely talking about an incident in 1981 involving social protestors left over from the Vietnam War, or THE Brinks robbery in 1951. That's the one featuring Halloween masks the Time Magazine artist had in mind.

It was the perfect crime. Law enforcement struck out and largely gave up. But, then, the perpetrators started shooting at each other. Large amounts of money mixed with criminals will do that. The FBI got a wounded survivor to play the rat, or sing like a canary, or squeal, depending on which movie you're watching. A few days before the statute of limitations would have put the entire gang beyond reach, the FBI arrested them. They were convicted, their appeals denied, and they went to prison. By 1971 they were all back on the streets, the rat got out much earlier, and justice was done.

By the way, the robbers were wearing Captain Marvel masks, and they became instant pop-culture icons. Ed Sullivan put a group of men in Captain Marvel masks on his show claiming, in jest, they were the Brinks Robbers. Shazam took another meaning.

Another loose end: the rat, "Specs" O'Keefe, was shot in the leg by New York hit man "Trigger" Burke, not part of the Brinks gang. Burke forgot to leave town, was arrested, escaped, and eventually re-arrested. He was convicted for one of his successful business ventures, the murder of a buddy named Walsh, and he was executed at Sing Sing in 1958, a tidy footnote to 1950s crime.

The Brinks heist netted over two million dollars, of which $58,000 was recovered. If the balance was hidden away in someone's mattress until 1971, or in the foundation of a construction site, it may have been enough to keep the old thieves in Boston baked beans the rest of their lives. If it got into a modest investment, like a bank account, it might have grown to as much as 3 ½ million. Oh well, crime doesn't pay.

In 1949, Wimbledon photographers got down on their backs to capture a better angle of Gussie Moran.

This image represents Gussie Moran. The story indicated by the picture, actually started in 1949 at the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament, but hit its stride in the 1950s.

Miss Moran, whose U.S. ranking eventually ascended to number four, appeared at Wimbledon for the first time in 1949. The official Wimbledon host, Ted Tinling, allowed her to appear in an outfit that technically complied with the rules, but was considered risqué. It included a skirt so short her lace-trimmed under garment was visible. Scandal ensued. Tinling, host for 23 years, was not allowed back into Wimbledon for 33 years.

Miss Moran became "Gorgeous Gussie" and appeared in Life Magazine. She continued playing tennis, turned pro, and went on tour using the Wimbledon costume as her trademark. She appeared in the movie, "Pat and Mike" with Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. She appeared on magazine covers, and in department store windows. Gorgeous Gussie was the moniker for a race horse, an airplane, and culinary dishes.

She transcended the fifties, and, when her tennis career ended around 1971, she went into various lines of work including broadcasting, sports clothing, tennis pro, and personal appearances. She was shot down during a USO tour in Vietnam, but survived. She lived in Santa Monica until her death in 2013.

Trust your swing. And Sam Snead's.

The green jacket in this image probably refers to the US Masters Tournament, and the three crowns indicate three victories.

In the 1950s two golfers notched three Masters victories, Jimmy Demaret in 1950, and Sam Snead in 1954. Snead was in the golfing news in 1959, when the collage was drawn, so this is probably him.

Arnold Palmer was just getting started in the late 1950s. He'd won the Masters once, and several other tournaments, but his TV persona came just a bit later.

Sam Snead and Ben Hogan were the 1950s household names in golf.

The September 21, 1959 edition of Life Magazine contained an article about Squaresville and Beatsville.

This little square-headed guy is probably intended to be part of the nearby portrayal of beatniks, and the two, together, are probably a reference to the perceived tension between this early form of counter culture, and the heart of America.

Near the end of 1959, in the September 21, issue, Life Magazine ran a story setting the skirmish lines between the beat generation, and everyone else. If you weren't beat, you were square.

On December 5, 1955, the AFL under George Meaney, and the CIO under Walter Reuther, merged into a single labor union.

The American Federation of Labor (AFL) was organized in 1886 with Samuel Gompers as its head. By 1955 George Meaney was it's president.

The Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) was formed in 1935 by John L. Lewis from unions expelled from the AFL. By 1955 it was being led by Walter Reuther.

After twenty years of estrangemnt, sometimes violent and always vitriolic, the AFL and CIO merged into the largest federation of unions in the United States.

Teamsters, Thugs and Power.

The CIO tossed the Teamsters Union out on December 6, 1957, because they feared the political and regulatory backlash building across the nation from Senator McClellan's senate investigations. The person driving the teamsters wagon in Time's collage is Jimmy Hoffa, the new president.

For much of the 1950s, and for years prior, the Teamsters had a national reputation for corruption. Their president, Dave Beck, was accused of all manner of wrong doing, and for being mobbed up with Chicago organized crime personalities. Jimmy Hoffa presented himself as the alternative to Beck, and eventually Beck gave way to him, reluctantly.

Many people, among them Senator McClellan's committee aid, Robert F. Kennedy, considered Hoffa to be worse than Beck.

Several legislative and procedural initiatives resulted directly from the machinations of Beck and Hoffa. The CIO even threatened expulsion for any member that refused to testify based on fifth amendment rights.

If the people in Jimmy Hoffa's wagon are individully significant, their identies have not been determined.

Four students and an Army escort on their way to Central High, with a crowd waiting in front of the school.

Depicted here is Arkansas governor, Orville Faubus blocking the integration of Little Rock high school, September 3, 1957.

Not shown are the one thousand troops from the 101st Airborne Division from Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, mobilized by president Eisenhower after he'd nationalized the Arkansas National Guard and removed them from the governor's authority.

Eisenhower was enforcing the May 17, 1954, Brown Vs Board of Education ruling by the supreme court that denied states the right to segregate public schools.

The nine students barred by Faubus were admitted, and forty-two years later President Clinton, an ex-governor of Arkansas, presented them with the Congressional Gold Medal.

To the left, real Juno l prepares to launch America’s first satellite Explorer I on January 31, 1958. On the right, a model in 1/144th scale

We see here the ubiquitous Russian spy, ferreting out the serets of American rocketry.

The object of the Ruskie's attention is the Juno I launcher that carried America's first satellite into orbit on January 31, 1958.

If the presence of the generic spy figure indicates a specific act of espionage, it has not been identified.

We now know, although we didn't know at the time, that the CIA was indeed carrying out this kind of espionage on the Russians' Sputnik technology.

Ike and Adams, sans coat.

Suggested here is Ike's Chief of Staff, Sherman Adams, caught up in an end-of-term scandal.

Mr. Adams was discovered to have accepted a gift of a vicuña overcoat and oriental rug from Bernard Goldfine, a Boston textile manufacturer who was being investigated for Federal Trade Commission violations.

Mr. Adams was the first person to hold the post of Presidential Chief of Staff, and the case has been studied and restudied for decades, conclusions falling pretty much along partisan lines. Jean A. Scott typed up her Honors Thesis in history at Westhampton College on the topic in 1967.

Seven astronauts training for rocket travel into space-and safe return to earth-look over a model of a test rocket at Langley Research Center, Va., on July 7, 1959. From left are: Navy Lt. Malcolm Scott Carpenter, Air Force Capt. Donald Slayton, Air Force Capt. Leroy Cooper, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Alan Shepard, Marine Lt. Col. John Glenn, Air Force Capt. Virgil Grissom and Navy Lt. Cmdr. Walter Schirra.

This image represents the seven original Mercury Astronauts. Why they appear to be wearing mustaches in the collage is a puzzle. Perhaps it's an artifact of the copy. They were instant heroes and have remained so, mostly, for the next many decades. They all went on to other things after they left the space program, and John Glenn became a senator, and later went back into space as an old man, aboard the space shuttle.

Drew Pearson at work, 1943.Credit...Marie Hansen/The LIFE Picture Collection, via Getty Images

Drew Pearson was the go-to muckracker of the 1950s, and for years before and after. His column and radio broadcast, "The Washington Merry-Go-Round," kept politicians honest, or at least looking over their shoulders, and the public entertained, if not informed. He was an institution of the fifties.

Alger Hiss was accused of Soviet espionage, and was eventually convicted of perjury. That was just the beginning of the controversy.

The Pumpkin Papers have become a proxy for political differences in the United States. They quickly became, and remain, frieghted with the baggage of partisan fisticuffs. There were, and are, those alarmed by Soviet spying during the cold war, and those more alarmed by the methods of the spy catchers. Alger Hiss, a State Department employee, was accused of passing secrets to the Soviets. He was eventually convicted of perjury based on some evidence secreted away in a pumpkin patch.

The drama evolved over the decades. Joe McCarthy proved the excesses of the anti-communist devotees. Richard Nixon, a notable anti-communist force, was discredited. Hiss, and his accusers stuck to their stories.

In 1996 some previously classified American intelligence, termed the "Venona decrypts" were made public, and showed secret messages being sent around by Soviet spies. They referred to a Soviet Asset in the American State Department widely considered to be Alger Hiss, based on the descriptions of his movements and contacts.

Controversy continues, and will, probably, for a few more generations.

Harry Truman was known as a walking president.

Harry Truman was a noted walker. He provided ready access to one and all during his daily walks. The only stipulation was to keep up, as he kept a brisk pace.

At a time when exercise was not an additional duty, but something gotten during the course of daily activities, which for most people were active to the point of being strenuous, Truman's fitness routine was remarkable, and remarked.

Willie the Fifth.

The novelty of TV broadcasts of congressional hearings exposed Americans to a legal practice that became a cultural icon: taking the fifth. People who had no idea what was being amended, nor how many amendments there might be to it, knew that "taking the fifth" was an excuse for not answering embarrasing questions. School children tried it. Employees tried it in confrontations with the boss. Reportedly, husbands and wives tried it.

Invoking the 5th became so common place in the 1950s it even appeared in comic books.

The practice was seen so often by obvious criminals, the fifth amendment took on a taint, and some carelessly called for it to be overturned.

These days memories of the fifth amendment are often influenced by politics, as is almost everything. Some recall it being used primarily by mobsters. Others recall it being used by witnesses called before Joe McCarthy, and other "red hunters."

Ike was Time's Man of the Year in 1959.

During the 1950s, Dwight Eisenhower was the most popular man in the world.

He made a trip to Europe, his first time back since the war, and the reaction of the world was heartfelt and magnanimous.

The image in the collage underscores the decision of Time Magazine to make Ike the Man of the Year in 1959. Some believed he was the man of the decade.

It became popular to disparage Ike right after the end of his tenure. People of idle ambition and little accomplishment felt safe in expressing disdain for the man who'd commanded the armies victorious over despotism. His years of guiding America through the post-war dangers of the Cold War were dismissed with the epithet, "He put the country to sleep!"

People who value accomplishment, and the sacrifices to realize it, always liked Ike.

Adlai Stevenson runs twice, called an egghead.

Adlai Stevenson was the grandson of his namesake, Grover Cleveland's vice president. He was also Governor of Illinois, twice the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for President, a hopeful for a third nomination in 1960, ambassador to the UN, and not a fan of the Kennedy brothers, whom he called ruthless.

Stevenson was a thoughtful type, and his political opponents called him an egghead, hoping it would be a bad thing, but Stevenson was good natured about it, and it morphed into a positive, when comparisons of intelligence were made.

He served as a character reference for Alger Hiss, which added decibels to his opponents' denunciations.

To have twice lost the Presidential election to Eisenhower, caused some to disparage his political career, but it's actually a lot like a pitcher who loses twenty games in a season. You have to be a good pitcher to be allowed the opportunity of losing twenty games. A bad pitcher would have been benched or dismissed. In fact, so good was Stevenson he was widely discussed for a third run in 1960, but the Kennedy's slipped by him, leading to Stevenson's assessment of them. Still, they appointed him ambassador to the UN.

The "eggheads" sitting around listening to Adlai read, and the book he's reading, have yet to be identified.

The shoe with a hole in the sole was an election icon, based on a picture that some enterprising photog managed to take of Stevenson's shoe. Slow news day.

Estes Kefauver looking pleased.

Estes Kefauver was a politician from Tennessee. His campaign signature was a coonskin cap (click the picture to find out why).

As a U.S. Senator he chaired the Kefauver Committee investigating organize crime. He ran for president every chance he got. He was Adlai Stevenson's running mate in 1956.

He was smarter than he looked, as many of his political enemies discovered, to their embarrassment.

Candidates for president in 1960.

The artist's image suggests two Republican candidates, Richard Nixon and Nelson Rockefeller.

The Democrats fielded a more robust field. The participants can be reviewed under the adjaccent picture (by clicking it).

The candidates suggested by the artist are subject to misidentificaiton because of the poor quality of the copy. They are probably, bottom row, left to right, John Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey (no this is not a woman...the thing that looks like a hat is probably a copying artifact), Wayne Morse, Lyndon Johnson, and Estes Kefauver (glasses, disappearing off the bottom of the page).

Track of Hurrican Hazel.

In the decade of the fifties, Hurricanes veered to the east and pummeled the atlantic seaboard more heavily than the gulf coast.

These four were remembered by the Times Magazine artist, but there were others, and some of them were just as devastating.

Hurricane Audrey was an exception to the eastern swerve, and plowed through Texas and Louisiana. Twenty years later people were still telling newcomers how unladylike Audrey had been.

The Andrea Doria has its own website, maintained by a survivor.

The Andrea Doria was an Italian cruise liner that collided with a Swedish Amerian liner, MS Stockholm on July 25, 1956. The Andrea Doria sank with loss of 46 of its 1706 passengers and crew.

The exact cause of the collision remains speculative, but mistakes were made on both ships. The Andrea Doria had a double hull with eleven water tight compartments, but was top heavy with a tendency to list in high seas. When struck by the Stockholm, she rolled over and sank about eleven hours later.

The image in the collage of a diver probably refers to the diving expedtion in 1956 of William Edgerton, who died while diving on the Andrea Doria after his breathing aparatus failed.

Time Magazine notices Castro.

On January 1, 1959, Fidel Castro's revolutionaries forced dictator Fulgencio Batista to flee the island.

The American government had backed Bastista because they suspected Castro of being a Soviet ally. American citizens, aware of Batista's bad behaviour, had respect, sometimes grudging, for Castro and his revolutionaries.

A steady stream of refugees streamed across the short span of water separating Florida and Cuba, taking up residence in America.

Rod Lavers book about Australain tennis dominance, links to a picture history.

This image may refer to the 1959 Australian Open, won by a latin America tennis player representing the U.S., a controversy of its own, or it may refer to the two decade dominance of amatuer tennis by Australia.

Eleanor Roosevelt and Edith Sampson at United Nations in New York, 9/21/1950 Series: Franklin D. Roosevelt Library Public Domain Photographs, 1882 - 1962. Collection: Franklin D. Roosevelt Library Public Domain Photographs, 1882 - 1962

The United Nations was a much-discussed institution in the 50s. The building was going up, some unrecognized governments felt snubbed (they didn't call themselves "Red" China), and personalities came to the front.

The most consequential Secretary General during most of the 1950s, Dag Hammarskjöld, 1905-1961, is pictured at top. The woman to the left is Eleanor Roosevelt, chair of the UN Human Rights Committee, and to the right of her is probably Edith Sampson, the first black U. S. delegate appointed to the UN.

Advertisements for Miltown, a minor tranquilizer that left users feeling calm but not sedated. It quickly became the most popular prescribed pill of the 1950s and ’60s.

Miltown was a pharmaceutical response to Alfred E. Neuman's catchphrase. It inspired a book by S. J. Perlman.

Robert L. May (July 27, 1905 – August 11, 1976) was the creator of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Here's the story and the story.

If you're wondering how Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer gets into a 1950s collage, you probably know more of the history than many of us.

Rudolph was invented in 1939 by a catalog copywriter for Montgomery Ward, Robert L. May, who was asked to come up with something for the Christmas catalog. His story was published by Montgomery Ward in book form after two million copies were distributed as an advertising promotion.

Then May's brother-in-law, Jonny Marks, turned the story into a song, and altered a few details for lyrical expedience, or something. He got it onto the radio in 1949, a live performance by Harry Brannon. Then Gene Autry got hold of it, and, here's the 1950s part, Autry's recording hit the top of the charts on January 7, 1950, the first number-one hit of the decade. Yes, that's right, we're talking about the fifties here, not the fifth decade of the twentieth century, which didn't really start until 1951. No one wants to hear about that.

Anyway, Rudolph's real popularity is intrinsic to the fifties, and no one much remembers the Montgomery Ward advertising campaign of 1939, or Montgomery Ward itself for that matter.

Johnny Marks wrote several other Christmas songs, including Chuck Berry's 1959 version of May's story, "Run Run Rudolph."

George Balanchine rehearses Slaughter on Tenth Avenue with Suzanne Farrell, 1968.

This image of ballet is perhaps a reference to George Balanchine, Russian-American ballet choreographer. The specific event might be his production, in 1954, of The Nutcracker. The other dancer might be Suzanne Farrell, with whom he collaborated, performed, and carried on an affair for several years.

It may also refer to Balanchine's TV productions in 1957 and 1958.

Hear Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind" read by Argos MacCallum, poet, actor, director, and all-around stage hand with many theatre companies in Santa Fe; co-founder of Teatro Paragua.

Ode to the West Wind

By Percy Bysshe Shelley

O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed

The wingèd seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow

Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
With living hues and odours plain and hill:

Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
Destroyer and Preserver; hear, O hear!


Thou on whose stream, 'mid the steep sky's commotion,
Loose clouds like Earth's decaying leaves are shed,
Shook from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean,

Angels of rain and lightning: there are spread
On the blue surface of thine airy surge,
Like the bright hair uplifted from the head

Of some fierce Maenad, even from the dim verge
Of the horizon to the zenith's height,
The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge

Of the dying year, to which this closing night
Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre
Vaulted with all thy congregated might

Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere
Black rain, and fire, and hail will burst: O hear!


Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams
The blue Mediterranean, where he lay,
Lulled by the coil of his crystalline streams,

Beside a pumice isle in Baiae's bay,
And saw in sleep old palaces and towers
Quivering within the wave's intenser day,

All overgrown with azure moss and flowers
So sweet, the sense faints picturing them! Thou
For whose path the Atlantic's level powers

Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below
The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear
The sapless foliage of the ocean, know
Thy voice, and suddenly grow grey with fear,
And tremble and despoil themselves: O hear!


If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;
If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;
A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share

The impulse of thy strength, only less free
Than thou, O Uncontrollable! If even
I were as in my boyhood, and could be

The comrade of thy wanderings over Heaven,
As then, when to outstrip thy skiey speed
Scarce seemed a vision; I would ne'er have striven

As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.
Oh! lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!

A heavy weight of hours has chained and bowed
One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud.


Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
What if my leaves are falling like its own!
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies

Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone,
Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,
My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!

Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth!
And, by the incantation of this verse,

Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawakened Earth

The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?